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By Ade Ojeikere

Whenever a player falls on the field in a soccer game in Europe, the response rate of the medics is breath-taking with no room for guesswork. All the apparatuses needed for the fallen star are with the nearest medical person including oxygen. When the situation looks critical, the player is given enough space by bystanders while those whose duty it is to restore the player’s life take charge.

Evacuation of the player from the pitch is always dignifying with the ambulances driven close to the point where the player can be taken. It must be stated all the ambulances are fitted with state-of-art facilities which would improve the conditions of the players before getting to the hospital or theatres if that where he needs to be taken to. The first aid the players get on the pitch sets the stage for how successful the exercise would be. If such a player requires oxygen, it is fitted right there on the pitch.

No player or should I say teammate accompanies such colleague out of the pitch. The injured is wheeled into the ambulance and driven away. Not so in Nigeria. The crowd around the fallen player is enough to suffocate him. the methods of reviving him are laughable. When those around the injured player are not fanning with dingy jerseys, they are pouring sachet of pure water on him while some others are pressing the player’s chest for someone gasping for breath.

Evacuating the patient inside the ambulance from the stadium isn’t a guesswork thing. As soon as the situation occurred inside the stadium, the medical crew which provided first aid for the patient opened a line of communication between them and the designated hospital. Doctors and nurses in the hospital have been debriefed about all that transpired during the first aid sessions. This synergy between the two medic crews helps those in the hospital to commencement work to save the patient (player). This helps to reduce the mortality rates from such incidents at the stadia.

What it clearly shows is that the league organisers and the designated hospitals have a business understanding to attend to all medical cases arising from incidents at the stadia. This agreement isn’t hinged on verbal talks. All the parties in the agreement sit to jaw-jaw, with everyone coming to the negotiation tables with their terms and objections. The differences arising from the discussions are addressed before a binding document is signed. This working document makes defaulters liable in terms of breaches. No half measures. Those selected came from transparent bidding processes among renowned hospitals in the country.

With such an arrangement, the patient doesn’t get to the hospital and is confronted with the cheap talk of money to commencement treatment. No idiotic suggestions of lack of oxygen, no light, etc. The patient is wheel into the theatre if that is what he or she needs immediately. Surgery is done, photographs of the patient on his or her beds are awash on the internet with get well messages from around the world for such a patient. No ceremonies and no tales of the unexpected having met all the conditions enshrine in the club licensing book. How many clubs in Nigeria can meet all the conditions of club licensing? We can with the right people running our league. But we won’t because we think it is the Nigerian way to subvert all that is good in the country. Simply, nothing good works in Nigeria.


Sometime last year, a player (name withheld because the matter is in court) died on the pitch with pictures of the timid manner in which they tried to revive him. We saw one man pressing the player who was gasping for breath on his chest. We saw others fanning him with their stinking shirts soaked with sweat from the game. While another helper tried to force a spoon through his mouth. Not forgetting those who wasted sachets of pure water on the dying player. All these efforts were futile since those who sought to save the player’s life were not taught the rudiments of such an act – which is essentially first aid.

The player may have died because the ambulance at the stadium, which was meant to carry him to the hospital had a malfunctioning battery. The ambulance had to be pushed around for it to start. No dice. The player was eventually taken to the hospital in the ambulance of the state governor’s convoy. Help came late, pity.


Did the league organisers learn anything from the death of the player being discussed above?  No. After all, they showcased all the pictures from venues with club proprietors, match referees, and commissioner(s) standing beside ambulances to show them that they were compliant only after a player died. Last weekend, another player who plays for Adamawa slumped, according to one account, and was taken away in an ambulance.  This account showed the player with two of his mates sitting inside the ambulance, which many claimed was a Danfo bus converted into an emergency ambulance.  I don’t want to believe this account. What the ambulance showed was the player lying down with his mates looking over him as the bus drove off. The bonnet of the Danfo was flung open. I hope that wasn’t the be way it went to the hospital, that is if it did eventually.

Shocked? Don’t be. The players would have forced their way into the bus to ensure nothing goes wrong. Would you blame them? No. Indeed, an account from the man who ought to be the chairman of Adamawa FC stated that the club has no doctor. Can you bet that? He stated further that the team had two nurses. This writer cringed as h spoke wondering what the conditions of the club licensing are if it doesn’t contain such a sensitive and critical aspect of the game – players’ medical conditions. The account from one of the top organisers stressed that the players slumped after the game but walked away of his volition after standing on his feet. I immediately remembered how the late Tunde Charity Ikhidero died.


If a player slumps as a result of exhaustion, should he be taken to the hospital for further medical cross-examinations instead of allowing walk home untreated? Could it be that the ambulance wasn’t there or that the driver couldn’t be located? If the player remained on the pitch, before slumping, it meant that he was struggling with some health issues and needed to be helped not left to rise to his feet unaided. What were his club officials doing? If they watched in awe, then it confirmed the chairman’s revelation that Adamawa FC has no club doctor. A state government-owned club? Haba Adamawa State governor! What does it take to deploy a doctor from the state-owned hospital to accompany the team to is matches or assign a doctor to the team? If we can’t get the organisers to provide adequate first aid attention for players in a game that involves physical contacts, how do they want us to trust them with the Covid-19 regulations?

Facets of the league’s organogram work in other climes because of the existing business frameworks which defines who gets what and who doesn’t for proper accountability. There are no jobs for the boys. Recruitment into key positions of the leagues is strategic and duly run by professionals with rich business resume acquired over time. Rather than address the issue of telling us which hospitals in the six geo-political zones in the country that they are partners with, the media is awash with the so-called television coverage on our telephone sets. Can a fan watch the match on his or her handsets travelling through the Lagos to Benin City highways? No way. Established radio stations and television stations can’t bet on that. Of what use is it then? Should we not know the official hospitals for the league? Or have the organisers left this critical task to club owners who owe their players, coaches, and officials their wages running into years?

What those celebrating the so-called television coverage don’t understand  that is the fans prefer to watch the matches live at the stadia or in viewing centres where they try to recreate the stadium setting than to sit alone like the selfish Chief Executives who always see things from the myopic prisms not from the world view.

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